Contributor: Wendy Siegel, Owner/Director of Tyler Hill Camp
PRE CAMP JITTERS? A LOT OF THEM… NONE OF THEM…WHAT’S NORMAL? it’s totally normal for your first time camper to feel heightened nerves! It’s not uncommon for kids to start expressing that they’re nervous especially after a year of unprecedented togetherness. You might see this displayed with their words or with “new” behaviors (waking up in the middle of the night, wanting to sleep in bed with you, a little separation anxiety). On the other hand there are some kids act totally cool as a cucumber and don’t seem phased. You’re wondering, hmmm is this normal and are you even going to miss me? In these instances keeping the conversation light, positive, yet normalizing feelings that might come up for them (plant the seed to normalize if the emotion or feeling does come up). So talking about drop off, the possibility of homesickness through a different perspective like by sharing a personal story that might frame a time when you were so happy but missed home and dealt with it – i.e if you went to sleepaway camp, going to college, etc. and how that was for you.
CAMP IS A ROLLERCOASTER…JUST LIKE LIFE!! Each summer at camp is a journey – a marathon – not a sprint. There will be ups and there will be downs. Just like at home, camp is real life. And if you happen to have your weekly phone call with your child and it’s a “down” day, DO NOT FREAK OUT!! Calmly assess what is actually happening for your child…and decide whether it’s worth a call to your camp director (or group leader – whoever is your contact). All campers have rough days here and there – a fight with a friend, a swollen mosquito bite, a counselor that took away flashlight time two nights ago. Expect a down day…it’s NOT the end of the world or time to switch camps!! Number one piece of advice here: STAY CALM.
DON’T BE SHY – PICK UP THE PHONE!! We camp directors actually ENJOY talking to you parents!! Don’t start every phone call to your camp director by saying, “I hate to bother you – I know you’re so busy!” We’re never too busy for you…our customers, our clients, our “family”. Don’t be afraid to contact us with any concerns or questions – no matter how big or how small. You’re about to join our camp family for years to come and we enjoy opportunities to build closer relationships with you!
YOUR CHILD IS THE ONE GOING TO CAMP AND S/HE HAS A VOICE…Remind your sons and daughters that this summer is THEIR summer! AND, if they need ANYTHING, they just need to speak up! There are LOTS of adults in camp to talk to if they need something, if they have a problem, if they don’t like the food or if they can’t find where their counselors put their underwear when they unpacked. For the first time, your kids are not going to have you to speak up for them and they will get to find and use their own voices! How lucky are they!! Practice this at home before they leave so that they’re READY and ABLE to speak up when they get to camp.
WHO HAS TIME FOR MORE FRIENDS?!! The answer: YOU! Some of the other camp moms and dads whose names you’re just learning are going to become your closest friends. It may be hard to believe, but fast forward and you’re going to talk to them daily (yes, group chats are a thing), travel with them on vacations, hug them with authenticity on Visiting Day and depend on them for advice and friendship and carpools over the next year….and over the next ten years. Embrace it!!
SERIOUSLY…NO TV OR YOUTUBE BEFORE BED? MY KID WILL NOT SURVIVE! Ummmm…yes. Your kid will survive and it will be the GREATEST thing that ever happened to him or her!! Being unplugged is one of the best “gifts” that camp will give your child (next to friendships and confidence, of course). Giggling, flashlight tag, “apples and onions” and counselor bedtime stories will take the place of TV and video games and we PROMISE your son or daughter will love it and won’t ever look back!!
SHAMPOO vs. CONDITIONER…APPLYING SUNSCREEN…SKIM vs. 2% vs. WHOLE MILK vs. SOY…We know that these are just a few of the hundreds of questions that are keeping YOU awake at night. How will your kids navigate new responsibilities that you have always managed for them? How will they tell the difference between shampoo and conditioner? What if they choose skim milk instead of the soy that you serve at home? Don’t you worry….that’s what COUNSELORS are for!! We promise that the counselors we hire are capable and amazing, and they will be the ones to help your sons and daughters figure it all out all day every day at camp
ADHD…OCD…BED WETTING…RITALIN and MORE…We’ve seen it all and nothing scares us. We all have campers in our camps who take medication, who wet the bed, who struggle socially…and we BEG you to be up front with us before the buses roll into camp…because the more we know about your child ahead of time, the better we can take care of him or her during the summer and the more amazing we can make his or her summer at camp!! You don’t need to be embarrassed or afraid to tell us the truth about your child because we’re the ones caring for him/her for 50 days and nights and we all have the same goal – an AWESOME and HAPPY and AMAZING summer!!